Ale & Compass Restaurant in Yacht Club Resort is a mid-range table service dining option at Walt Disney World. It’s decidedly unremarkable, so boring you’ll be asking “where did we eat lunch?” by dinner time. About the only thing you could say it’s the best at is being the dullest table service restaurant at Walt Disney World.
Now, you might think that’s overly harsh. After all, there are a lot of bad restaurants at Walt Disney World. From Restaurantosaurus to Planet Hollywood Observatory, there are some options that leave a lot to be desired. However, none of those are flat-out boring like Ale & Compass. Those other restaurants might try and fail, but at least they try.
By contrast, it seems that Ale & Compass just tries to be as bland and unoffensive as possible. The decor is best described as a generic modern, with aspirations of being upscale. (It’s not.) If you were to show me photos of the interior and say it’s from the lobby lounge at the Kansas City Airport Courtyard by Marriott, I wouldn’t question that. It’s actually a bit shocking that so much time was spent on the refurbishment and this is the end result.
I know part of Yacht Club’s recent refurbishment was to make it more appealing to conventioneers. What this design tells me is that Disney views conventioneers as about the most vanilla people on the face of the earth, unable to appreciate anything with any semblance of character.
I don’t know–perhaps Disney performed a deep dive into analytics and determined that people spend more expense account money on booze if the the color scheme is dull grey and deep blue.
That really gets the liquor flowing, because you need more drinks to add a sense of excitement to the dull environment? (If that’s Disney’s logic…well played.)
The one interesting-ish addition to Ale & Compass Restaurant is the counter seating that looks into the open kitchen. The problem with this, at least during our visit, was that not much was happening in this open kitchen. It’s not the entire kitchen, just where minor, late-stage prep occurs and things are fired in the hearth oven. Kudos, Ale & Compass, you’ve even managed to make an open kitchen boring.
Now, I know there will be detractors who say that they like this style or appreciate something that isn’t garish and over-the-top “Disney.” If you like the style, I can’t argue with that. I’m sure this does appeal to some people and I definitely wouldn’t mind it in a $100/night real world hotel, but not at Walt Disney World.
With regard to the latter criticism, my response would be that there is middle ground between airport hotel lounge and Chef Mickey’s. Restaurants like Artist Point and Boatwright’s Dining Hall, two of many examples, manage to do understated decor that is thematically on-point but not over-the-top.
In fact, some of Imagineering’s thematic coups are when they manage to convey a different time and place without a heavy-handed approach.
As for the food, what we tried was definitely better than the theme, but it was still a mixed bag…
We started with the Oven-roasted Oysters with spinach and creamed Kale, white cheddar, and cornbread crumbs.
Think of these as oysters for people who don’t like oysters. The other flavors really dominated the dish, to the point where only the lingering salinity at the end of each bite. The crumbing had a good flavor, but there was too much of it.
One of our friends ordered the Lobster and Corn Chowder.
I was a bit taken aback by the price here, but I tried it and this chowder was actually quite good. It wasn’t too thick and heavy, and there were generous clumps of lobster. It was an interesting twist on chowder, and something I’d consider ordering on a cold day.
Here’s the Mushroom, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyère Cheeseburger, served on a parker house bun served with fries.
This was a satisfactory burger, but does not hold a candle to the cheaper Angus Chuck Burger with Truffle Fries that used to be served at Crew’s Cup Lounge (and could be ordered here, off menu). Nevertheless, if we reviewed things relative to extinct counterparts, we’d never step foot in Epcot again. This burger was good, but I wouldn’t get it again.
Here are the Fish & Chips.
I also found these to be satisfactory but, again, not something I’d go out of my way to order again. They’re not even enough of an upgrade over Yorkshire County Fish Shop to justify leaving Epcot.
Sarah ordered the Open-faced Skirt Steak Sandwich with caramelized onions, poached egg, fennel, watercress, and tomato salad with truffle vinaigrette.
She hit the jackpot. I was apprehensive that the poached egg was here to mask subpar steak, but that was not the case at all. The meat was tender and perfectly-prepared, and the sandwich came together incredibly well with a robust mix of savory and fresh flavors. This is one of, if not the, best sandwiches I’ve tried at Walt Disney World. It was the saving grace of our whole dining experience at Ale & Compass.
We’ve heard from others who have tried items from the dinner menu and raved about their meals. Given our experience with the Skirt Steak Sandwich, I am curious about items like the Pan-seared Trout, Broccoli Rabe, Cornbread Cake and even the Fried Chicken and Waffles.
Unfortunately, to try those items, we’d have to visit Ale & Compass Restaurant again, and the insipid interior makes that unlikely. We can dine at a boring restaurant with mediocre-to-good food anywhere, at Walt Disney World, we expect more in terms of atmosphere and theme.
What do you think of Ale & Compass Restaurant? Where does it rank in terms of dining at Walt Disney World for you? Have any favorite foods here? Does the boring theme matter to you, or do you prefer an environment like this? Is there something we’re missing? Any questions? Hearing your feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts or questions below in the comments!